If you would believe the logic the NRA has used to justify guns everywhere from inside capitol buildings to bars to schools, more guns equal more safety. With that premise, one would think an NRA convention – a place where thousands of gun-owners congregate to buy, sell, and talk weaponry – would be the safest place in the world. The NRA disagrees. In fact, they’d rather you kept your guns at home, please.
The NRA, America’s largest gun lobbying group, is planning to hold its annual convention this week in Nashville. According to planners, over 70,000 proud good guys (and girls) with guns are expected to show up. As always, attendees will hear talks from celebrities, politicians, former Alaskan half-term governors, and gun-rights advocates, while a massive arena will be filled with vendors.
Oddly, the NRA has decided that it wouldn’t feel safe allowing 70,000 people packing heat to mill about. According to local paper The Tennessean, the organization put together a plan that they say will keep people safe – namely, “no guns.”
A multilevel security plan went into works not long after Nashville was chosen as the convention destination. All guns on the convention floor will be nonoperational, with the firing pins removed, and any guns purchased during the NRA convention will have to be picked up at a Federal Firearms License dealer, near where the purchaser lives, and will require a legal identification.
In other words: no working guns on the property and required registration procedures for all gun purchases. They’ve also reportedly paid over $200,000 for extra security. If those seem like relatively tame requirements around so many lethal weapons, then you haven’t been paying attention lately.
It will be interesting to see whether the gun rights movement handles these rules well; after all, these are the very same folks who “exercised their Second Amendment rights” by intentionally walking into restaurants armed to the teeth to prove a point about the “right” to open carry anywhere they please.
… and then launched further protests and threats to boycott when the restaurants asked them to please leave their AR15’s in their vehicles because they were terrifying customers.
The NRA itself is partly responsible for this new “guns anywhere” mentality. They’ve been actively promoting it. The group recently scored a major win with the passage of bills they pushed for in several states that will allow gun owners to carry their arsenal into bars, public schools, universities, local parks, and various other locations that would ostensibly be a scary place to have weapons.
The one place that the NRA doesn’t want guns? Anywhere near the members of the NRA. It’s hard to blame them. Those things are dangerous!
UPDATE: Several readers have pointed out that the NRA is giving conflicting information on allowing guns within the convention. This appears to be due to how the “convention” is set up. The event takes places at several locations, with big speaking and musical events at night. At those events, held at the Bridgestone Arena, guns are strictly prohibited. During the day, however, the convention is held at the Music City Center a block away. The NRA says it will allow licensed gun owners to carry their weapons.
Here’s a Nashville Public Radio story covering the proposed ban on guns during *some* NRA events and the ensuing backlash:
Those with carry permits are in the clear inside the Music City Center. But the big nightly concerts are across the street at Bridgestone Arena.
“Bridgestone Arena prohibits the possession of firearms,” according to a disclaimer on the NRA website. “When carrying your firearm, remember to follow all federal, state and local laws.”
It’s not unusual for parts of the NRA convention to be off limits to guns. Last year in Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium enforced its firearm ban. In 2010, the entire convention area in Charlotte restricted concealed carrying.
NRA member Dan Utz of the Chicago area says he tries never to patronize establishments that don’t allow guns. In this case, he says he may have to break his rule.
Feature image via Steve Snodgrass/Flickr